When Luis Cecenas graduated from Monett High School in 2007, college wasn’t on his radar. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if I hadn’t gone to college. I’d worked in a restaurant and I knew I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life,” Cecenas said. “I didn’t want to go to college, but my parents pushed me.”
Now, his attitude about education has done a complete 180. Luis is a Drury graduate with a degree in psychology and human services, works at Drury’s campus in Monett and hopes to go to graduate school.
Being a college graduate is a big deal for Cecenas. He and his parents immigrated to Missouri from Mexico decades ago. Now, Cecenas is the first person in his family with a college degree.
“My mom told me that when I graduated, she did too,” Cecenas said. “My dad has worked construction for 25 years and his body is paying the price. They know that with a college education I won’t have to do that kind of work for a lifetime, and they’ve given me a chance at a life they couldn’t give themselves.”
Cecenas takes his role as a college graduate in the Monett Hispanic community seriously. Now, he recruits students to Drury, especially bilingual students. While children may be bilingual, often, the parents can only speak Spanish. Luis talks to the parents in Spanish and walks them through the process, which makes it much less intimidating.
Luis hopes that the example he’s set will inspire more Hispanic students to pursue a college degree, “I tell them that they have an opportunity to be successful and be a leader. Not just in the Hispanic community, but the Monett community as a whole.”